Tom Boyd: The Voice Of Reason Or Celtic’s Yes Man?

Celtic Paradise

Tom Boyd isn’t a man scared of giving his opinion.

This week the former Celtic treble winning captain was announced as one of the Glasgow club’s new ambassadors along with Davie Hay.

Boyd took advantage of the opportunity to state that the recent uproar regarding Ronny Deila’s position at the club was all down to hysterical fans and ex-Celts out to make a few quid in the media.

Probably pointing towards the likes of John Hartson, Chris Sutton and Andy Walker, Boyd said:

There are enough people out there who like to criticise the club without ex-players doing it as well.’

Now for all that I think Boyd makes some decent points regarding the current situation like the fact the team are still top of the league after all, he loses a lot of momentum when he starts to suggest supporters and ex players should just back the club blindly no matter what.

Surely that’s the wrong message in this era of football.

Many accused Rangers fans of blindly following the tune of Sir David Murray in the late nineties and early noughties without any opposition and look how that went.

I honestly think it’s always a good thing that a club’s support challenges the custodians and even the managers when they think things aren’t going swimmingly. Basically it keeps everyone on their toes.

Look at how the Liverpool fanbase fought against the raise of ticket prices at Anfield. They voiced their opposition and they were heard.

Now Boyd surely has to concede that certain fans and ex-players have a few decent arguments regarding the current manager and the team. They’ve gone backwards since Neil Lennon’s tenure and even since the end of last season. Deila’s record in Europe has been pretty poor, to say the least. European competition has to be seen as the yardstick for this Celtic squad and managerial team.

I think Tom Boyd is right to praise Aberdeen but he cannot ignore the fact that the Hoops have taken their eye off the ball domestically too.

Boyd stated:

‘It’s someone sitting at the top of the league, who can possibly win a double. And a lot of people are calling for his head.’

‘I don’t think that has ever happened in Scottish football. You can enlighten me if I’m wrong.’

Well to be honest it happens all the time. I remember certain Celtic fans getting bored of Neil Lennon and happy that he left. I also recall Gers supporters questioning Walter Smith during his last winning season in charge at Ibrox. This is Scotland Tom, we always demand more, even if we are being ridiculous.

It’s funny, I wrote last weekend about Ronny and the misgivings fans have about him at the moment. Some people responded by backing him, which is fair enough I love debate on here and I can see why some would support him. But those backing him were quick to point out that those ex-Celtic stars such as Sutton and Walker were just spewing rubbish to gain some much needed media coin.

But surely we can look at Boyd’s view and wonder if he has now become a spokesman for the board and earn his wage from the club by backing them continuously.

His ex-teammate Marc Rieper said as much:

“Tom Boyd defended Ronny Deila but he is employed by the club and if he spoke out against the manager then he probably wouldn’t at the club tomorrow!”

It’s certainly and interesting argument but not one that I subscribe to. Davie Hay wasn’t as staunch in his support for the current Celtic boss.

I’m not Boyd’s biggest fan, I always thought he was an ordinary player who was often overrated plus I still blame him for that OG against Brazil in 98 (That may not be rational I know).

But in fairness I don’t think he’d say all this if he didn’t believe it.

I just think he did it in a bizarre way that seemed to be too critical of the ordinary Celtic supporter.

He would have been better served to state the positives of having Ronny Deila at the clubs helm rather than go on the attack… But maybe that’s were the problems lie!

Let me end by stating that I think Celtic have chosen well in appointing Tom Boyd as one of their new club ambassadors. Not because he is a yes man but because he has earned it with a strong playing career and by being a model pro at Parkhead,

Mauricio Pochettino Should Concentrate On Spurs And Forget The Rest

Tottenham_Hotspur

It’s easy to see why Mauricio Pochettino’s work receives admiring glances from other clubs.

The Argentine manager transformed Southampton into an accomplished Premier League team and now he’s pushing his Tottenham Hotspur side firmly into the Champions League positions. Actually you could even call them title challengers this season.

Pochettino impresses with his quiet but determined demeanour. He’s a boss who gets the best out of his players and anyone not invested in his ideology can find a new employer. His sides also play with creativity and a fluidity that’s easy on the eye. He’s also got a good defensive backbone that hurt when they concede. Having a captain and goalkeeper like Hugo Lloris helps as he’s a standout Premier League performer.

So with possibility that both Manchester United and Chelsea are on the lookout for a new boss this summer, you can see why Pochettino’s name has cropped up with links to those sides.

But for me the forty-three year old would be best served staying with Spurs.

Dare I say that he has a job at White Hart Lane that is more attractive to him than any other in the league.

Going to Old Trafford could mean a huge squad redevelopment, he’s just managed to get his pool right at Tottenham. At Chelsea he could be walking into a toxic dressing room, he’s finally rid himself of the dead apples at Spurs.

I think that the Tottenham project is well on course to move into its next phase.

In Harry Kane they have a striker who knows where the goal is and can find the net regularly. Pochettino has given the hitman the needed confidence to shine.

Although I think they need another forward capable of getting on the scoresheet. Clinton N’Jie is still finding his feet in the Premier League and his latest injury has certainly hampered things.

The signing of Dele Alli has been inspired. I’m sure a lot of teams will have scouted the young midfielder but didn’t act quickly enough. Tottenham did and Pochettino flung him in at the deep end and the nineteen year old has reacted with some splendid performances. His energy has often galvanised teammates and he has merited his recent international recognition.

One huge plus for the Tottenham board has been Erik Lamela’s form this term. The £30m man has often been criticised since his move from Roma in 2013. But Pochettino has persevered with his countryman and has been rewarded with Lamela putting in some eye catching performances. Yes he’s still not the world beater Tottenham had initially hoped for but he’s now no longer perceived as a dud. The potential is there for him to improve.

The mean defence and holding midfielders give Tottenham a strength that most others in the league are crying out for. Mauricio is a big advocate of if it’s not broken then don’t fix it.

The fact is that Tottenham’s squad play as a strong, well organised unit who seem to understand exactly what their manager wants from them.

They need to stop drawing so many games if they want to win the league title. Their 4-1 triumph over Manchester City back in September showed us that they are more than capable in the bigger games.

The Argentine feels his side are now confident to achieve great things this season:

“You can see in their eyes, the feeling, the energy, that they believe,”

“Belief is the most important word. If we believe, anything can happen.”

I’d love for Pochettino to see that this could just be the start for him and Tottenham Hotspur. A trophy in May would be fantastic for him and his players whether that be the Premier League, the FA Cup or the Europa League. Even a top four finish would be a signal that everything is progressing well with the ‘Lilywhites’ and there is no need to move on.

Fantastic Fraser Forster Is Southampton’s Guiding Light

1024px-Fraser_Forster

Southampton’s season has seriously picked up since the thirteenth of January. Before that the Saints season was in danger of becoming mediocre and slightly meaningless as they looked increasingly like mid-table side.

But then goalkeeper Fraser Forster returned from his long-term knee injury after spending the previous nine months on the sidelines.

Having the giant goalie back between the sticks has obviously has the desired affect that boss Ronald Koeman would’ve wanted.

The England international kept a cleansheet in his first senior appearance of the season against Watford in the Saints 2-0 win.

He then repeated the cleansheet trick in the next four Premier League games and that run included a win over Man United and a draw with Arsenal away at the Emirates.

In fact in Forster’s five appearances Southampton have picked up four wins and a draw. That has seen Koeman’s men jump up to seventh in the league and they are just three points off fifth spot!

To give you an idea of how impressive Forster’s record has been, in Southampton’s other twenty league games this term they managed six cleansheets.

I often think Forster’s talents have been under appreciated. Maybe it’s because Southampton aren’t in the top four or maybe it’s because he’s not a shampoo ambassador but whatever the reason he should be given the credit he deserves.

Since Forster arrived at St Mary’s in 2014, only four keepers have kept more than his eighteen cleansheets in the Barclays Premier League. Not bad considering he missed the last nine months!

In Southampton’s recent goalless draw with title challengers Arsenal, Forster made ten saves. No keeper has made more saves in a Premier League game during this campaign.

To think that he was out for so long and game back and performed so well is quite outstanding.

Now I am not entirely surprised, having witnessed Fraser first hand in Scotland before his £10m move to England’s south coast.

At Celtic Forster went more than 1155 minutes without conceding a goal, which broke the long lasting record. His performances against Barcelona in the Champions League will always go down in Celtic folklore. The Spanish media labelled him ‘La Gran Muralla‘ (the Great Wall) after those clashes.

His exploits in Scotland didn’t go unnoticed with legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon:

“You can talk about him not being in a top league but the amount of clean sheets he has kept has been incredible.

“And he has proved over the past two seasons in Europe he can perform at the highest level.”

That’s a huge endorsement for any number one.

Many questioned if he could do it against the top strikers in England, yet Fraser stepped up and has never looked out of place in the Premier League.

After his knee injury and long rehab, many again questioned his ability to comeback and show the same consistency. Yet he has comeback with five straight cleansheets.

As ever Fraser Forster has shown that with strong dedication and natural ability he can continue to keep cleansheets and prove he really is the big man for the occasion.

 

Celtic Need To Make Big Changes… Bringing In Moyes Would Be A Start!

Celtic Park Wide

When I currently think of Celtic Football Club usually the word rut springs to the top of my thoughts.

It might seem strange to a Scottish football outsider as the Hoops currently top the Scottish Premiership and are looking to win a fifth Championship in a row. And although Aberdeen are making a fist of it at the top of the table, it will take a collapse of banking proportions for the Glasgow giants not to secure yet another league title come May.

Now I could go on about the inept board that keep their heads buried beneath all the healthy looking bank-sheets. Peter Lawwell and Co lack ambition to improve the squad via meaningful funds and thus have found themselves on the outside of European’s elite competition in recent seasons.

If I’m being perfectly honest, the board seem content on waiting on Rangers to return to the Premiership. The relationship between the clubs custodians and the majority of fans has been increasingly strained for sometime now.

Now I think the time is right for a few of these board members to step aside and allow a new wave to come in and start a new era at the club. But I’ve been saying that since Celtic’s last AGM.

So in this blog I’m going to concentrate on the on-field problems that need to be sorted out.

I think the Ronny Deila experiment hasn’t worked out.

The Norwegian manager seems like a nice man and has some decent ideas. But ultimately Celtic have regressed under his tenureship rather than progressed.

His appointment was always going to be an inexpensive gamble but his failures in Europe cannot be overlooked. He’s always struggled to find a Plan B and he’s often been exposed tactically against continental opposition. Then there is the fact that he’s struggled in certain domestic cup competitions.

Last weekend Celtic went to Hampden Park and limped out of the League Cup as Ross County soundly beat them 3-1. Then in midweek their closest title challengers Aberdeen defeated them 2-1 at Pittodrie and the Dons are now just three points behind the leaders.

In both of those games Celtic supporters complained that the team lacked desire, imagination and fight.

Players who ended last season in form, have also gone backwards this term. The biggest example of that is probably Stefan Johansen, last seasons player of the year.

The deadline day signing of Colin Kazim-Richards wasn’t welcomed by the club’s faithful. The Turkish international forward has never been prolific, he only scored once in the Dutch Eredivisie in this campaign. He left Feyenoord under a cloud after he was suspended by the club before his move to Parkhead after he threatened a journalist. People have questioned his attitude throughout his career and that latest incident in Holland did nothing to help him lose the ‘bad-boy’ tag.

The fact that Celtic signed him to a two and a half year deal worries many at Celtic Park. It’s another sign that the board lack ambition and the manager lacks the authority to question his boards signing policy.

Now I think for Celtic to improve on these issues they probably need an experienced British manager who can take the club forward and help force the boardroom to think beyond the balance sheets.

With that in mind I think David Moyes could be convinced that he could spend between three and five years at Parkhead and start a new exciting era in Glasgow’s East End.

Moyes showed at Everton that he can commit to a cause and work well on a budget. He also has a good eye for unearthing top young prospects and allowing those prospects to flourish in the first team.

Now people will point to his time at Manchester United and his stint in Spain with Real Sociedad and suggest he’s a spent force in management. I actually think he would be desperate to prove those doubters wrong and he’d probably jump at the chance to turn around Celtic’s fortunes in the Champions League.

If he could rebuild his reputation with Celtic then everyone at the club is a winner!

Being a former Hoops player should help him, although I’ve never been one to believe in the whole Celtic minded thing.

What an experienced manager like Moyes would do, is push the board to show ambition and demand more from the scouting team. The coaching staff would in turn demand more from the players.

In essence I think he’d make the whole club feel like a Champions League club again rather than a team stuck in rut!

Who Will Win The Race To Sign Pep Guardiola?

Pep_Guardiola

Pep Guardiola is one of the most successful managers in modern football so when he announced he wanted to manage in the Premier League, a number of clubs must have been preparing to roll the red carpet out for the Spaniard.

The former Barcelona and now Bayern Munich boss has a managerial C.V. that includes two Champions Leagues, three La Liga titles and two Bundesliga crowns, as well as many other pieces of silverware.

Guardiola’s recent announcement would have put pressure on the managers of all the big clubs in England as they know that unless they get results in the second half of this season, their futures could be under serious doubt.

Manchester City have been linked with Guardiola for a number of years now. It is thought the owners would love for the Spaniard to bring the brand of football he played at Barcelona to the Etihad Stadium.

Guardiola would most likely enjoy the challenge that the project at Manchester City would provide him. He would be given more than adequate funds to improve on the squad and they would be chasing some of the biggest names in world football.

Current City boss Manuel Pellegrini must therefore win the Premier League this season if he is to have any chance of keeping his job. Even then, the board may still dismiss the Chilean because they would not want to lose out on Guardiola to one of their rivals. A lot may ride on their penultimate game of the season where they take on Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium. That tie could be a sell-out, however, tickets can be purchased at www.ticketgum.com for what could be the title decider this season.

Guardiola’s destination this summer could also be the other half of Manchester if Louis van Gaal is dismissed. The Dutchman has been under some intense pressure ever since his side fell out of the Champions League in the group stage of the competition. Man United must surely finish in the top four this season if Van Gaal is to keep his job.

Jose_Mourinho

Some United fans were even singing the name of Jose Mourinho before their game against Chelsea at Old Trafford recently. If it came down to a choice between Mourinho and Guardiola, the majority of United fans would choose the latter as Van Gaal has been criticised for the negative brand of football his side has been playing which is not much different to the win-at-all-costs approach Mourinho has often used over the years.

The other option available to Guardiola this summer could be Chelsea. They have appointed Guus Hiddink in charge of the club until the end of the season but they have not made any decision yet about their future. Their plan may be to chase the Bayern Munich manager in the summer and tie him down to long-term contract.

Again, Guardiola may see this as a great challenge to rebuild last season’s Premier League champions following what has been a miserable campaign for the Blues so far.

Do Gunners Need More Fire Power To Secure Title?

Emirates Stadium

Strikers Edinson Cavani, Simone Zaza and Javier Hernandez have all been linked with big money moves to the English Premier League during this January transfer window.

It looks as if Brazilian hot-shot Alexandre Pato is set to complete a move to Chelsea in the coming days, with many speculating that a verbal agreement has been agreed between the main parties involved.

Current Premier League goalscorers Saido Berahino and Romelu Lukaku have also been mentioned as possible transfer targets for some of England’s elite sides.

Current league leaders Arsenal have been linked with a host of striking names including a few previously mentioned.

Celta Vigo’s Nolito and Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have also been discussed heavily regarding moves to the Emirates.

But earlier this week, Gunners boss Arsene Wenger moved to play down the possibility of a new forward coming in to bolster the Arsenal attack this month.

The Frenchman has hinted that he feels he has the required numbers in attack to continue their strong challenge for the league title.

Obviously Oliver Giroud has been the North London club’s biggest goalscoring threat in the current campaign. The French international has twelve goals in his twenty-one league appearances.

Now I am a huge Giroud fan and have been stating his qualities since he arrived at Arsenal in 2012. He possesses great battling qualities, has improved against the bigger sides and works well as the teams focal point. But you can’t hide from the fact that he can go missing and has dry spells during a season.

Wenger believes that Theo Walcott through the middle can help when Giroud goes through those dry spells. Now again I think Walcott is a good forward as he possesses electric pace and has learned to be more clinical in front of goal. But unfortunately for the pacey Englishman, every time he gets a prolonged stay in the team he picks up an injury and he’s still to prove himself as a prolific hitman.

Costa Rican attacker Joel Campbell has impressed in recent months. But he hasn’t been used through the middle. His endeavour on the right flank has been noticed and complimented on but alas he hasn’t got the goals in him to win a league championship.

Now Wenger has been boosted by the news that both Alexis Sanchez and Danny Welbeck are nearing returns from injury.

Sanchez is a proven world-class talent but again he’s more effective playing on the wing. That said he will always add goals to the side and add spark when its needed.

With Welbeck it’s a case of wait and see. Arsenal have a poor recent history with players coming back later than expected and getting injured again. Welbeck can play through the middle and will run all day for the team. But again does he have that killer instinct to fire the Gunners to glory?

This seems to happen a lot with Arsenal. They have an injury crisis and need to bring in players during the season. Then when January comes around players return and Wenger decides to hold off until the summer.

That’s a gamble that has cost them dear in the past. Is Arsene going to make the same mistake this time?

Wenger has reacted well and brought in Mohamed Elneny at the right time. The gritty midfielder will add extra strength in the defensive midfield department, especially with Francis Coquelin currently on the sidelines.

The summer signing of Petr Cech was inspired and his reliability between the sticks has certainly helped keep Arsenal in top spot in recent weeks.

Mesut Ozil has been one of the Premier League’s standout players this term and will be up for all the player of the year awards come April. Wenger should be applauded for keeping faith in the German and getting the best out of his maestro this season.

But no matter how many plaudits I can find to express all that’s right with Arsenal at the moment, I still have that feeling that they need one more star forward in the squad to really make that next step count!

Maybe just maybe Arsene Wenger is calling a few bluffs, has a card left up his sleeve and is just waiting for the right time to play his hand.

O’Halloran Move Represents A Throwback For Rangers!

Rangers/Ibrox

Rangers have a history of pursuing players after they impressed playing against the ‘Light Blues’.

Neil McCann is a good example. He was the first Scottish based player Dutch manager Dick Advocaat signed during his era in charge and cost £1.9m from Hearts. McCann had helped prevent Rangers winning their tenth league title in a row and a Scottish Cup title the season before his move to Glasgow.

You can also go back to 1960 when they signed Jim Baxter from Raith Rovers for £17,500 as a fine example.  Six months after a virtuoso performance at Ibrox for the Fife team and Rangers signed Baxter up.

Legendary Gers boss Scot Symon would tell Baxter:

‘When I watched you that day I knew I had to sign you. You ran the game, the whole show.’

Fast forward fifty-six years and the Glasgow giants are once again chasing a player who had dismantled them on their own turf.

That player is St Johnstone forward Michael O’Halloran.

His electric pace and goal helped give Gers boss Mark Warburton and his side their first bloody nose this season. His performance knocked Rangers out of the League Cup and it clearly stuck in Warburton’s mind.

Supposedly the Ibrox club’s first two bids, starting at £150k, were rejected. Saints boss Tommy Wright has already stated that his club will only sell for the right price. Speculation has that price touching £500k.

That’s a big outlay for Rangers in this current period of time. But the O’Halloran signing, along with a defensive midfielder (Possibly Brentford’s Toumani Diagouraga), could prove to be inspired if he (they) push the club towards the Scottish Championship title.

After allowing Nathan Oduwa to return to parent club Tottenham Hotspur, Warburton has a place available in his pool.

Now some Rangers supporters have questioned the reasoning behind the O’Halloran pursuit. They point to his poor scoring record this term in the Premiership and the fact that Rangers already have Ryan Hardie ready for more first team opportunities.

But I think the problem is the term forward as it confuses a few.

Yes Michael is an attacker but he isn’t an out and out central striker. He’s best suited to playing on the right, although at a push you can play him centrally or on the left.

So really you could see him up on the right for Rangers. That would allow prolific goalscorer Martyn Waghorn to return to his preferred central role and Barrie Mackay staying on the left.

While two league goals isn’t a great return for a striker, O’Halloran has produced nine assists in nineteen league games for the Perth side which is impressive for a wide forward.

Unlike Oduwa, Michael is a more established talent ready to go straight into the first team. His pace and keen eye for an assist would help the title charge.

Again comparisons could be made with Neil McCann in that regard.

Plus you have to trust the judgement of the current manager when it comes to Ryan Hardie. Warburton isn’t scared of playing youngsters but clearly doesn’t want to put too much pressure on the eighteen year old’s shoulders.

At the moment it’s still all conjecture regarding Michael O’Halloran as St Johnstone revealed last night that they’ve yet to receive a third bid from the Ibrox outfit.

But at least the chase represents a bit of the old Rangers transfer mentality of if they impress against you, then why not have them on your side!

 

Which Current Man United Stars Would Get In A Fergie Eleven?

Man United

So Manchester United produced a match winning effort to see off Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool at Anfield yesterday. The result should be enough to see Louis van Gaal keep his job until at least the end of this current campaign.

Unfortunately for United fans the performance wasn’t scintillating but I’m sure they’ll still love the fact that they managed to get one over their long time rivals. The faithful would also have appreciated that many of the first team that were missing managed to sit in the away end and cheer the team on from the terraces, it was a nice touch!

But I started thinking during the game, how many of the Man United players on the field would get in to a Sir Alex Ferguson side?

David De Gea: 

Well Ferguson did fork out £17.8m for the Spaniard back in 2011. After a tough start at Old Trafford De Gea has turned into a club stalwart and it could be argued that he is the clubs best player now.

A world class shot stopper who helps the side immensely with his ability in between the sticks. Would definitely be Sir Alex’s first choice keeper if he was still the gaffer.

Ashley Young:  

Young never really reached the potential that was expected of him at United. His versatility and willingness to work back endears him to Van Gaal. A decent squad player, although injuries always a problem (he came off injured yesterday).

I get the impression that had Sir Alex stayed on for an extra year, then he’d have sold Young. So I seriously doubt he’d be in a Fergie team in 2016!

Matteo Darmian:

The Italian international has had a few off days in his debut season in England but on the whole he has impressed. Certainly looks more comfortable on the right.

I think Sir Alex would see a lot of Gar Neville in Darmian and would get into the team. Although would the Glaswegian boss have sold Rafael to sign Matteo? Hmm I doubt it.

Chris Smalling:

Another player who was signed by Ferguson. The centre-back has improved since Van Gaal took charge in 2014 but I think that is more down to the player stepping out of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic’s shadows rather than the Dutchman’s tactical nous.

Fergie would be delighted that Smalling has finally made the step up permanent. Would probably be one of his leaders on the pitch.

Daley Blind: 

Another strong player who adds a lot due to his footballing intelligence and his versatility.

I think Ferguson would have been very keen to have Blind in his squad but I doubt he’d be seen as a centre-back. Probably would have played as a left-back more often than not.

Morgan Schneiderlin: 

The Frenchman gives his all and works well for the team doing the dirty things that more creative talents don’t waste their time on. Great at keeping possession and winning it in the first place.

We all know towards the end of the Fergie era that central midfield was a problem and I think that he’d like Schneiderlin’s work ethic and his combative style. Would he have paid £24m on him?

Marouane Fellaini:

The big Belgian offers something different to the United team with his strength and arial ability. Seems to be well liked in the dressing room and a trier.

To be fair Van Gaal didn’t sign him. If Fergie had wanted him he’d have bought him before his retirement and would never have paid so much. Just wasn’t the type of player Sir Alex would have had in his side, especially towards the end.

Ander Herrera: 

The young Spanish midfielder seems to impress the Man Utd fan base more than his current manager. Very effective on the ball but Van Gaal seems to have the shackles on him.

I genuinely think Ander would have excited Alex Ferguson. He’d have seen a new up version of Paul Scholes, just in need to direction and confidence. I think Fergie would have got the best out of the middle man.

Jesse Lingard:

Seems to have the trust of the manager and relishing being in the first team, keeping out Memphis Depay at the same time. His willingness to work back is a trait that the Dutch boss certainly likes.

I am a bit undecided on this one. Fergie predicted great things of Lingard and even thought that it wouldn’t happen straight away. But surely the legendary manager would have been expecting more than just one assist this term? Quite possibly in the same mould as Darren Fletcher and John O’Shea, worth keeping around as they can always offer something even if its just honesty and work rate.

Anthony Martial: 

Has really impressed since his big summer move from AS Monaco. Has lightning pace and a great instinct for a goal. Definitely doesn’t seem at his happiest out on the wing but needs must I suppose.

100% a player of the Fergie generation. Also think Ferguson would have managed him in a similar way but would have had more striking options to support the youngster and help him grow,

 Wayne Rooney: 

The match winner against Liverpool is now in his twelfth season at Old Trafford and is the club captain. Has scored 242 goals for the club but doesn’t seem to be the player he was at the height of his powers.

We all know that Rooney and Ferguson had fallen out just moths before the manager retired. I doubt the relationship would have survived that falling out and had Fergie stayed then I think Wayne would have been sold. I also think his form this season would have seen him dropped from the first team under Sir Alex.

Memphis Depay: 

The winger has all the attributes to become a Premier League success but he’s failed to show it enough this term. Is that down to settling in or his attitude? That question remains unanswered.

Depay’s qualities and achievements at PSV would have sparked Fergie’s interest but would he have passed the mental profiling that Ferguson would have demanded from his scouting team?

Juan Mata:

There is no doubting Mata’s skill or technique. Is he a luxury player that the club needs at the moment?

I wonder if Ferguson would see Mata being a bit too similar to Juan Veron. A very pretty player but not worth building your team around. Fergie would also be suspicious of Jose Mourinho’s willingness to sell a player to a rival like United.

Cameron Borthwick-Jackson: 

It’s too early to really comment on the eighteen year old. Didn’t do much wrong yesterday but one for the future.

 

 

Could Pep Guardiola’s Shadow Cost Man City The Premier League Title?

Etihad Stadium

It seems like an open secret that no matter what happens between now and the end of season, that Pep Guardiola will takeover the manager’s position at Manchester City this summer.

The Spaniard confirmed over the festive period that he will be leaving Bayern Munich in May and is looking to manage in the English Premier League.

Guardiola has since stated that he will wait for the right offer and that might not be in the summer.

That hasn’t quelled the speculation, with many believing he rushed into confirming his plans and is now backtracking to help ease pressure off current managers in England.

Man City seems like the ideal destination for the former Barcelona boss. They have a strong squad, plenty of ambition and money to bring in any type of player that Pep asks for.

Obviously Manchester rivals United could also be on the lookout for a new gaffer in the summer. But that job would consist of a bigger rebuilding job.

Chelsea have recently sacked Jose Mourinho and need a permanent replacement. But after seeing Jose ruthlessly sacked after his players downed tools, would Guardiola fancy a long term future at Stamford Bridge?

Obviously City have a fine manager already at the Etihad in Manuel Pellegrini.

The Chilean has been great for City and deserves a lot of credit for his work with the club. But he isn’t the global world class name that the Man City owners have always wanted at the clubs helm.

His reaction to the speculation concerning his position has been quite revealing. He’s taken it all in his stride and stated he wont talk about his role at City until the end of the season. It’s almost as if he has been told that if Pep Guardiola were to become available then he’d take over the Citizens.

So let’s say that that is indeed case and that Pep to Man City is a done deal. Could that deal cost City the Premier League title this year?

Players who know that their current boss is leaving can end up slacking or become distracted. I’d like to think that the current crop of players who play in Sky Blue are better than that and have too much respect for Pellegrini not to give him their all.

But one major problem could be the club’s January transfer strategy.

Personally I think that City could do with adding another striker and centre-back to the pool.

In Sergio Aguero they probably have the best striker in the league but the Argentine hitman has always been susceptible to injuries, especially to his hamstrings.

Second striker Wilfried Bony has struggled with life at a top four club and hasn’t been prolific enough since his £28m move. The Ivorian has also had a few injuries during this campaign.

Youngster Kelechi Iheanacho has plenty of potential but I doubt he’s ready to play a big part in a championship winning team.

So I’d imagine that in an ideal world a new frontman would be brought in to help with the big push for the title.

In the defensive department, Vincent Kompany’s constant injury troubles this season has certainly hampered his sides league chances.

Listen is quite simple Man City play better with Kompany in the team and leading from the back.

Big summer buy Nicolas Otamendi has been a fine signing but has often been let down by those beside him when Kompany’s been out on the treatment table.

Frenchman Eliaquim Mangala started the season well but has once again failed to show the consistency required at a top team at this level. Whereas Martin Demichelis’ best years are now behind him.

Now if you could guarantee that Kompany and Aguero stayed fit for the rest of the season then City would be my favourites for the league title.

But the problem City now have (If Pep’s deal is already done) is that they will be very reluctant to go into the market in this window.

They’ll want to give the new man carte blanche to bring in his main targets in the summer. Would they really be keen to go out and buy an expensive forward or defender in this window without his say so? I doubt he’ll dishonour his Bayern contract to discuss targets with City at this moment.

By waiting they may see title rivals Arsenal bring in more quality that makes them harder to catch.

With all that said maybe history will repeat itself and do Manchester City a favour.

Back in January 2013 it was announced that Pep Guardiola would takeover at Bayern Munich in the following summer.

Bayern’s then manager Jupp Heynckes didn’t let the speculation get to him or his players and they went on to win an unprecedented treble that consisted of the German Cup, the Bundesliga and the Champions League.

I am sure Manuel Pellegrini, City’s owners and fans would love a similar outcome!

Rangers Still Need New Faces To Secure Promotion

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When Mark Warburton arrived at Ibrox in the summer he announced that he liked working with small numbers when it came to squad size.

But in the last month or so, he must have seen what we’ve all seen with this current Gers crop. The squad started with a bang but managed to drop points in four games in the past two months. That allowed Falkirk and Hibs to close the gap on the leaders to a touching distance!

Even in games that Rangers were still winning the side were playing uninspiring football.

Things have looked up in their last two Scottish Championship fixtures with a 4-2 win over Hibs and a 6-0 away triumph at Dumbarton.

But Warburton has obviously thought that he needed to bring in more competition to the squad and freshen things up a bit.

In the first few days of the transfer window opening Rangers have brought in two new faces.

Attacking midfielder/winger Harry Forrester has signed on from Doncaster Rovers, having worked previously with Warburton at Watford and Brentford. While Polish goalie Maciej Gostomski has just put pen to paper on a deal with the Govan club.

Both of these players have joined on six month contracts and will have to prove themselves at Ibrox.

I’ve always said that I like competition in the goalkeeping position and Gostomski being around should hopefully see Wes Foderingham improve in between the sticks as he bids to keep the gloves.

Forrester has a lot to prove and will hopefully show what he’s capable of at Rangers. It can be a great thing to bring in a player that has something to prove but only if the player is hungry enough to break into the side and play well.

But in my opinion Rangers still need two more new faces to ensure finishing in top place in the league come May.

I’m still not convinced that Rob Kiernan and Danny Wilson have formed a great understanding at the back. I’d look at bringing in an experienced centre-back to help build up the pair and compete with them. A defender with more pace and presence would be advantageous but is there one out there ready to play in the Scottish Championship?

I also think a ready made defensive midfielder full of energy and discipline would benefit this Rangers team greatly. I think Andy Halliday has done well and clearly cherishes being in a Gers top but I think the side needs a player more defensively minded to shore up things and protect the back four.

I suppose some might argue that another centre forward could be brought in. But only after adding more in those tow positions that need filled first.

In Martyn Waghorn, Kenny Miller, Nicky Clark and Ryan Hardie I think they will have enough in that department.

After such a bright start, it’s now imperative that Warburton and the Rangers board get things right this month. It could be catastrophic if they fail to see that the squad needs enhanced in vital areas if they want to see promotion come the end of the season.